Monday, July 21, 2008

Death of Free Internet is Imminent

Death of Free Internet is Imminent
Canada Will Become Test Case

By Kevin Parkinson

21/07/08 "Global Research" -- - In the last 15 years or so, as a society we have had access to more information than ever before in modern history because of the Internet. There are approximately 1 billion Internet users in the world B and any one of these users can theoretically communicate in real time with any other on the planet. The Internet has been the greatest technological achievement of the 20th century by far, and has been recognized as such by the global community.

The free transfer of information, uncensored, unlimited and untainted, still seems to be a dream when you think about it. Whatever field that is mentioned- education, commerce, government, news, entertainment, politics and countless other areas- have been radically affected by the introduction of the Internet. And mostly, it's good news, except when poor judgements are made and people are taken advantage of. Scrutiny and oversight are needed, especially where children are involved.

However, when there are potential profits open to a corporation, the needs of society don't count. Take the recent case in Canada with the behemoths, Telus and Rogers rolling out a charge for text messaging without any warning to the public. It was an arrogant and risky move for the telecommunications giants because it backfired. People actually used Internet technology to deliver a loud and clear message to these companies and that was to scrap the extra charge. The people used the power of the Internet against the big boys and the little guys won.

However, the issue of text messaging is just a tiny blip on the radar screens of Telus and another company, Bell Canada, the two largest Internet Service Providers (ISP'S) in Canada. Our country is being used as a test case to drastically change the delivery of Internet service forever. The change will be so radical that it has the potential to send us back to the horse and buggy days of information sharing and access.

In the upcoming weeks watch for a report in Time Magazine that will attempt to smooth over the rough edges of a diabolical plot by Bell Canada and Telus, to begin charging per site fees on most Internet sites. The plan is to convert the Internet into a cable-like system, where customers sign up for specific web sites, and then pay to visit sites beyond a cutoff point.

From my browsing (on the currently free Internet) I have discovered that the 'demise' of the free Internet is slated for 2010 in Canada, and two years later around the world. Canada is seen a good choice to implement such shameful and sinister changes, since Canadians are viewed as being laissez fair, politically uninformed and an easy target. The corporate marauders will iron out the wrinkles in Canada and then spring the new, castrated version of the Internet on the rest of the world, probably with little fanfare, except for some dire warnings about the 'evil' of the Internet (free) and the CEO's spouting about 'safety and security'. These buzzwords usually work pretty well.

What will the Internet look like in Canada in 2010? I suspect that the ISP's will provide a "package" program as companies like Cogeco currently do. Customers will pay for a series of websites as they do now for their television stations. Television stations will be available on-line as part of these packages, which will make the networks happy since they have lost much of the younger market which are surfing and chatting on their computers in the evening. However, as is the case with cable television now, if you choose something that is not part of the package, you know what happens. You pay extra.

And this is where the Internet (free) as we know it will suffer almost immediate, economic strangulation. Thousands and thousands of Internet sites will not be part of the package so users will have to pay extra to visit those sites! In just an hour or two it is possible to easily visit 20-30 sites or more while looking for information. Just imagine how high these costs will be.

At present, the world condemns China because that country restricts certain websites. "They are undemocratic; they are removing people's freedom; they don't respect individual rights; they are censoring information,” are some of the comments we hear. But what Bell Canada and Telus have planned for Canadians is much worse than that. They are planning the death of the Internet (free) as we know it, and I expect they'll be hardly a whimper from Canadians. It's all part of the corporate plan for a New World Order and virtually a masterstroke that will lead to the creation of billions and billions of dollars of corporate profit at the expense of the working and middle classes.

There are so many other implications as a result of these changes, far too many to elaborate on here. Be aware that we will all lose our privacy because all websites will be tracked as part of the billing procedure, and we will be literally cut off from 90% of the information that we can access today. The little guys on the Net will fall likes flies; Bloggers and small website operators will die a quick death because people will not pay to go to their sites and read their pages.

Ironically, the only medium that can save us is the one we are trying to save- the Internet (free). This article will be posted on my Blog, and I encourage people and groups to learn more about this issue. Canadians can keep the Internet free just as they kept text messaging free. Don't wait for the federal politicians. They will do nothing to help us.

I would welcome a letter to the editor of the Standard Freeholder from a spokesperson from Bell Canada or Telus telling me that I am absolutely wrong in what I have written, and that no such changes to the Internet are being planned, and that access to Internet sites will remain FREE in the years to come. In the meantime, I encourage all of you to write to the media, ask questions, phone the radio station, phone a friend, or think of something else to prevent what appears to me to be inevitable.

Maintaining Internet (free) access is the only way we have a chance at combatting the global corporate takeover, the North American Union, and a long list of other deadly deeds that the elite in society have planned for us. Yesterday was too late in trying to protect our rights and freedoms. We must now redouble our efforts in order to give our children and grandchildren a fighting chance in the future.

Author's website:

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Gulf Inflation and the Dollar Peg
by Patrick Seale

The oil-rich Arab states of the Gulf are suffering from a painful and insidious disease which, if unchecked, will eat away at their prosperity and stability. The disease is called inflation.

The figures tell the story. Inflation in Saudi Arabia -- by far the region’s biggest economy -- is running at about 10.4% a year; in the United Arab Emirates it is 11%; in Kuwait 10%; in Oman 13.2%; in Qatar 14%.

Double-digit inflation such as this is hard to check. Governments are forced to compensate by increasing subsidies on basic items, by introducing price controls and, above all, by increasing wages of public employees. Private employers have usually to follow suit -- and inflation edges upwards.

In inflationary situations, it is always those who live by their labour -- who have no access to oil revenues and are not cushioned by wealth -- who suffer first and who start to agitate, threatening political stability.

The root cause of Gulf inflation is, of course, the stupendous avalanche of wealth which has poured over the region as a result of the soaring price of oil. Not so long ago, oil was selling at $20; now it is edging towards $150. The oil price has surged seven-fold since 2002. It has doubled in price in the last year alone.

If one cause of inflation is the sharp increase of wealth -- too many riyals and too many dirhams chasing too few goods -- another cause is the peg of most Gulf currencies to the weakening dollar. The Saudi riyal, for example, has been pegged at a rate of 3.75 riyals to the U.S. dollar since 1986.

As the dollar falls sharply against the euro and the yen, such dollar pegs contribute to inflation by making Gulf imports from Europe and Japan more expensive. Oman’s import bill, for example, surged in 2007 by almost 47% to $15.96bn.

Economists and central bankers up and down the Gulf are now debating whether it would be wise to end the dollar peg and revalue their currencies.

A committee of Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council has recommended to King Abdallah that the riyal should be revalued by up to 30%. But Hamad Saud al-Sayyari, head of the Saudi central bank, has said that adjusting exchange rates will not solve the problem of high inflation. Meanwhile, Muhammad al-Jahdhamy, executive vice-president of Oman’s central bank, has said that inflation will stabilise, a remark that implied that a revaluation was not necessary.

Some experts believe that Gulf currencies should abandon the dollar peg in favour of a peg to a basket of currencies. Others argue that only a floating exchange rate would give the Gulf countries the monetary policy independence they need in a situation of global financial turbulence.

Ala’a A-Youssuf, chief economist of the London-based Gulf Finance House, argued in a letter to the Financial Times (July 16) that exchange rate appreciation alone would not be effective. He called for a “comprehensive medium-term development framework that explicitly recognizes the need to contain inflation while fostering growth and development.” Such a programme, he might have added, would be easier to implement if the Gulf countries were to adopt a single currency, on the model of the European Union.

The Financial Times (8 July) has called for Gulf currencies to include the price of oil in the basket to which they could peg their currencies. Their currencies would appreciate when oil was strong and depreciate when it was weak.

The truth is that the world economy is in great trouble. While oil and other commodities continue to climb, stock markets tumble and several leading commercial banks are struggling to stay afloat. In the United States, consumer confidence is at a 28-year low.

The biggest threat overhanging the world economy is the uncertain future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the pillars of the U.S. mortgage market. Together, they own or guarantee almost half of the $12,000bn U.S. mortgage market. But, as house prices fall and foreclosures rise across the United States, they have incurred huge losses. If they collapsed, the consequences could be disastrous for the global financial system -- and for the dollar.

To survive, Fannie and Freddie need to borrow and raise fresh capital. But it will not be easy to attract private lenders so long as it is not clear what the U.S. government will do to save these venerable institutions.

One solution being floated is not to nationalize them -- which would be contrary to America’s liberal market ideology -- but to place them in “conservatorship” -- a sort of disguised nationalization, which would allow the U.S. government to pretend that the liabilities of Fannie and Freddie were not its own.

With the world teetering on the edge of a depression, these are not easy times for financial authorities, whether in the United States, in the Gulf, or indeed anywhere else.

Patrick Seale is a leading British writer on the Middle East, and the author of The Struggle for Syria; also, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East; and Abu Nidal: A Gun for Hire.

Logging Wrecks Vancouver Island Watersheds

Island's future water supply made unfit by logging
It will take decades to make Leech River Valley suitable resource for Victoria-area communities, official estimates

July 19, 2008

VICTORIA -- The Leech River Valley on Vancouver Island holds the future water supply for the rapidly expanding communities in and around Victoria.

But thanks to logging on private lands, the water is unfit for the city's taps.

The watershed is scarred by clear-cuts. More than 20 landslides, many triggered by logging, mark the steep gulley leading to the Leech River.

Last summer, the Capital Regional District spent nearly $60-million buying the valley from TimberWest Forest Corp. and is now preparing to spend more to restore the watershed to something that mimics the original forest.

It will take decades to restore the watershed to the point that it can provide clean drinking water, estimates Jack Hull, the CRD's general manager for water services.

"We are taking a long-term view," he said yesterday. "We could be looking at 30 or more years."

With growing development pressures on the island, similar conflicts over private timberlands were highlighted this week when Auditor-General John Doyle assailed the former forests minister for a decision on the forestry land base just west of the Leech River watershed.

Mr. Doyle said the province didn't act in the public interest when it removed about 28,000 hectares of Western Forest Products' private timberlands from Forest Ministry regulation, paving the way for real-estate development - or the kind of logging that has marked the Leech River watershed.

Until last year's land-use decision, the Western Forest Products lands were subject to tree farm licence (TFL) regulations that required higher standards for logging. The company has since provisionally sold a portion of the properties around Jordan River to a real-estate developer.

The deal, worth an estimated $150-million to the forest company, has generated anger in communities in the region along the west coast of Vancouver Island. Environmentalists and unionized forest workers have banded together to oppose the sell-off of the timberlands.

Mr. Doyle concluded the government should have looked at what happens to private lands when they are lifted from the TFL restrictions before altering the status of the lands. The province received no compensation for the change.

Historically, forest companies in B.C. agreed to put private forestry lands under provincial control in exchange for access to timber on public land.

"There wasn't a sufficient review of past decisions, they fell between the cracks," Mr. Doyle said in an interview.

But Ben Parfitt, a resource policy analyst for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said the information was there in the government's own database, had the Forests Ministry chosen to consider the potential impact.

In a study released this week, Mr. Parfitt found that logging rates increased dramatically once land was taken out of TFL controls. Companies pay less in taxes and royalties on strictly private lands, and are subject to fewer restrictions to sell raw logs for export.

(Virtually all of the private TFL lands have been wiped out since 1999. There are just a few pockets left on Vancouver Island and in the Kootenays, a total of about 17,000 hectares.) "I think the Leech River watershed is a good example of where the public interest is impacted negatively by logging rates and methods on private lands," Mr. Parfitt said.

His report calls for reforms of private forest land regulations to ensure sustainable harvests. "If we had proper rules in place we wouldn't be out of pocket for the Leech watershed."

Conflicts over logging on private forestry lands are particularly acute on Vancouver Island because a high ratio of the island is in private hands. On the mainland, about 95 per cent of the province is publicly owned. On Vancouver Island, nearly a quarter of the land is in private hands.

With environmental and development pressures rubbing up against logging activities, most of the big private timberland owners are moving into the real estate business.

"Vancouver Island is changing at a rapid rate with respect to population growth," noted Steve Lorimer, TimberWest's manager of public affairs. "There is pressure to find land for areas to live, to recreate and maintain a good water supply." It's a formula that makes it harder to log, but more lucrative to build.

Nearly a fifth of TimberWest's 322,000 hectares of private lands on Vancouver Island have been earmarked for development. As a sign of the times, TimberWest hired its first vice-president of real estate last year.